Week five, the final week of drawing before we start painting! This weeks class with Katie Comley Jones was a bit different, we used something called Oxide powder. I believe it was Red Iron Oxide powder. We used it as the basis of a drawing method Katie walked us though, before we gave it a go ourselves.

No pencils!

Last last week, I wrote that on my notepad again before class started, and this week the universe agreed. The pencils stayed locked away. I had taken in a few images to draw; a couple cat photos and a few feminine images. After watching Katie do this drawing method, I decided to select one of the cat photos as it seemed like it would work well.

The method required some oxide powder, a kneaded eraser, tissue, white chalk, some pastels and a lot of mess lol This was the messiest I’ve ever got producing art. My hands were covered, my jumper was covered, one of the girls even had the stuff all over her face lol

The oxide powder, a.k.a the messy stuff, was used as background tone. Katie sprinkled it onto the paper and than lightly rubbed it in via circular motions with a tissue. Once an even tone was laid down, she began to lighting sketch out the drawing using a kneaded eraser. If she made any mistakes, a simple rub of the power and she could start again. So it was very forgiving.

Once the basic lines were plotted with the kneaded eraser, she started building up the tone. Making the lights and darks pop with the white chalk and black charcoal. It was a case of laying down some chalk or charcoal, rubbing it in and just constantly adjusting the tones until they looked nice.

This technique allowed for five levels of tone.

  • White chalk
  • toned chalk
  • kneaded eraser
  • charcoal
  • background
Katie Comley Jones Art Class Oxide Powder and Pastels Cat Drawing by Artist Sophie Lawson

I maybe went a bit extreme with the black charcoal, but Katie didn’t mind :) When she gave us all our feedback, she suggested I get rid of some of the excess powder to produce a smoother background. I tried to get it nice and smooth, but it proved to be a bit too challenging.

I really enjoyed using this medium, something completely different for me, but I would totally try it at home one day. I kind of enjoyed getting messy, felt like a kid again covered in all that powder :) When the class was over, we sprayed our drawings with fixative and tried to tidy the mess up :) I also quickly sneaked in some quick sketching with some tools Katie had brought in; Faber Castell Pittartist Pens in Sanguine and Dark Sepia colours.

There were four in the pack, three different sized fine liners and a brush pen. I took the brush pen, it was really nice to work with, especially the Sanguine one, it’s colour was so cool! I would love to have done a little drawing with them, but there simply wasn’t enough time.

We have next week off for half term, and than we return for week six, where we’ll be painting. I’ve only ever done about five paintings in my whole life, so this is going to be way out of my comfort zone. Gulp.

You can find Katie Comley Jones at


Thomas Merton